Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, London | Sun, 06/12/2011 8:00 AM
For Francesc Fabregas i Soler, or “Cesc” as he prefers to be known, size doesn’t matter. Instead, commitment to and enjoyment of the game of soccer is the crucial factor for greatness.
“I think the best player in the world … is Lionel Messi,” the 1.75-meter-tall S
paniard said to his former teammates at FC Barcelona’s youth academy when Indonesian children asked him a question during a visit to London recently.
“So, sometimes you just have to believe in yourself and don’t think that just because you are too big or too small, or physically not strong enough. You can always improve, and if you train hard and practice in a positive way, you can always try to achieve your targets,” he told The Jakarta Post.
The Spanish midfielder is known as a captain that lets nobody down. His work ethic, vision and canny knack for making the right decision when in possession, Cesc slotted in seamlessly with Arsenal’s fluent style of play.
“It’s always a very upsetting day when you lose, but the good thing about soccer is that you can always recover, there is always the next game in three days so it is always a good moment to try to do the opposite thing and win,” said the youngest player in Spanish soccer history to participate in a World Cup when Luis Aragones named him the Spanish team in 2006. He was then 19 years and 41 days old.
“Sometimes you go through bad moments in the season when you lose two or three but you always have to keep your head up, not let the disappointment get into your head and try to do the best you can to help your team win.”
Cesc was born on May 4, 1987, in Vilassar de Mar in Catalonia, Spain. His father, Francesc Fabregas, Sr., was the owner of a property company and his mother, Nuria Soler, was the owner of a pastry company. Fabregas began his career with CE Mataro before being signed by Barcelona’s La Masia youth academy at the age of 10.
His coach at CE Mataro, Senor Blai, reportedly did not select him for matches against Barcelona in an attempt to hide him from their scout. But, Barcelona get to know him later on and Blai gave up. Fabregas was allowed to train with Barcelona one day a week and eventually he joined the academy full time.
The character-building at La Masia, where he played alongside Gerard Pique and Lionel Messi, had a tremendous impact on the attitude of the man who won the Golden Boot at the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Youth Championships in Finland, where Spain finished runner-up to Brazil.
The basketball fan, who has been touted as one of the best of Spain’s next generation of soccer players, is known for never letting his teammates down.
“To encourage my team, I just try to lead by example really, I try to do my best in the pitch,” said the man who moved from Barcelona to Highbury in the summer of 2003, and was only 16 years and 177 days old when he took to the pitch for the Gunners for the first time.
“I’m not the kind of player or a captain that starts to shout and say bad words to anyone but I always try to lead by example on the pitch doing the best that I can.”
The whole Fabregas attitude toward soccer and his career seems to echo what La Masia director Carles Folguera once said that what Barca was always looking for was “a type of player who’s not physical but a very good thinker, who’s ready to make decisions, who has talent, technique and agility and that physical strength is not important.”
“If I decided something I never think it’s going to be a bad experience. When I decided to go to England or I decided to play soccer because I always think positive that it will be the best for me,” said the Spanish national.
“And that as long as it lasts, I would enjoy it. It could have been wrongs it could have been the way it’s been but I know as well that I’ve been lucky,” said the man who spent his early time in London learning English.
“And with some of the seasons and some [coaches] that I had, they believe in me. But it could have been the opposite as well because I played with so many good players before and they didn’t make it and they were better than me.”
Ask him again and again and he will reply with the same message about self confidence, motivation, enjoyment of the game and the guts to make a decision.
Fabregas has supported FC Barcelona since his childhood and went to his first match when he was nine months old with his grandfather.
Even until today he still watches soccer with his grandfather. On May 22 he tweeted: “After a nice day with my family, ready to watch the game with my grandad. Come on Arsenal! Lets finish well boys!”
Although he was a prolific scorer, sometimes scoring even more than 30 goals in a season for the club’s youth
teams, Fabregas did not play a first team game at Camp Nou.
Sensing that he would have limited opportunities at Barcelona, he joined Arsenal at their academy, signing for the London club on Sept. 1, 2003 with a £2.25 million transfer.
He made history on Oct. 23, 2003, when he became the youngest player to turn out for Arsenal in the League Cup tie against Rotherham United, which the Gunner won on penalties after tied 1-1.
Now, eight years in England with Arsenal and with a string of achievements under his belt, including the World Cup title with the Spanish national team, he is still a man to watch.
His idol when he was young at La Masia and former captain of Barcelona Pep Guardiola, want him back too.
Fabregas has been continually linked with a move to Barcelona although Wenger is adamant he will “fight very hard” to ensure his star man stays put but last week Arsenal made it clear they will not sell Fabregas to another English Club. But, the newly crowned European Champions are not prepared to increase the £30million bid Arsenal rejected last summer.
The man who only played 22 games out of 38 last season due to injury was not only targeted by Barcelona but other European giants such as Chelsea, Manchester City, Inter Milan and even Barca arch rival Real Madrid.
The Gunners reportedly told Real Madrid the bidding for Fabregas starts at £54million, a prize that will break the record of Fernando Torres, who was bought from Liverpool by Chelsea with 50 million pounds.
And the Spanish giants are ready to meet Arsenal’s demands in their determination to trump Barcelona.
“The president Florentino Perez has identified Fabregas as the one signing above all others to hurt Barcelona,” a
Real source said as quoted by English newspaper The Sun last week. “He believes signing Fabregas would be a real statement of intent for next season. He will do whatever is needed to put the club back above Barca.”
We will see where the La Masia graduate sets his heart, either Camp Nou or the other camps as he always believes in the decision he made.
“Sometimes it’s about the luck and the passion you have and the good decision you make in life,” Fabregas said.